Normalization of the Shame of Human Trafficking

Courtesy of Claire Prudhomme

By Claire Prudhomme

Six domestic and international experts of human trafficking were hosted by the Columbus School of Law to discuss the change needed in the denormalization of human trafficking and a lack of societal shame on the topic of modern-day slavery on Wednesday, November 7th.

“A Shared Global Shame” was the theme of the panel which showed the normalization and personal shame of human trafficking, a part of an ongoing dialogue at the Catholic University of America. The University has held past events about this topic including “Answering Pope Francis’s Call: An American Catholic Response to Modern-Day Slavery” in 2015.

The panel shared their diverse ideas with those in attendance in the Slowinski Court Room. The panelists were: Christine Dolan, an investigative journalist and a former CNN Political Director; Kevin Hyland, a former UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner; Bob Hamer, a retired FBI Agent; Del Wilber, a retired Department of Defense and CIA Agent; and Michele Sarkisian, the President of P3 Advisors, an advisory board for growth strategy and execution and brand deployment.

Hyland began the conversation by asking the audience to think about Frederick Douglass would think of the improvements that society has made in terms of human trafficking. Douglass was an American social reformer and abolitionist who was very adamant about his own ideas regarding antislavery during the 1800s. Hyland said that, though we have improved from Douglas’ time, society needs to recognize and accept the shame that we are responsible for creating. 

The board then brought up that prosecution for international false labor crimes have dropped by nearly fifty percent. They also commented on the lack of media coverage and prosecution of large companies over the various deaths of labor mine workers from Coal India Ltd’s.

A very engaging part of the event was when Bob Hamer shared his stories of going undercover. He told the room that his hardest role was his assignment in human trafficking. 

“My toughest assignment was posing as a pedophile,” said the retired FBI agent. ”The important thing about going undercover is you have to talk like them, think like them and be like them.”

Hamer had to invest time into his role as an undercover agent as a pedophile and wrote articles for underground trafficking associations as well as gaining the trust of the people running trafficking organizations. He spoke of the extent he had to get admittance from the people just to prosecute them and as well as the complexities of trafficking laws.

Hamer and the other panelists surrounded a central idea that the world needs to own up to their shame and ignorance in the world of human trafficking. Most panelists agreed that the process needed to be changed through education, changing the money flow of the industry, and creating a better policy implementation program.

The panelists made one thing clear: society needs to know that people are there own enemies and that society needs to stop modernizing modern-day slavery.

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